Applesauce

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What do you do if you have two crisper drawers in the fridge full of apples on the brink of getting mushy? If you’re me, you look in a cookbook and say, “ooh I can make that, but first I need to make applesauce and puff pastry dough from scratch.” Spoiler alert: I swore a lot today. Even the cat got offended and left the room. There will be more on that in my next two posts.

Olive usually supervises all kitchen activity from her cottage chair perch.  You know, on the off-chance that what we're making magically transforms into fish for her.
Olive usually supervises all kitchen activity from her cottage chair perch. You know, on the off-chance that what we’re making magically transforms into fish for her.

Back to the easiest thing I did today and the subject of this post: Applesauce. I’ve been watching my mom make applesauce for as long as I can remember and have never paid attention to the recipe. Applesauce is a yearly autumn staple in our house because our family loves apple picking at Boyer’s Orchard in Monkton and we always come home with way more apples than we need. Something about picking your own from actual trees that you need to climb to reach the top is addicting. I could pick for hours, hanging out in the trees, munching fresh apples, sidestepping the bees feeding on drops.

Rob up at the top of a tree at Boyer's.
Rob up in the top of a tree at Boyer’s.

In the old orchard store there was even a tree with a plexiglass window installed so you could watch the honeybee hive that lived in it. The old orchard (open Saturday and Sunday during picking season) also has the one Wagner Apple tree that I know of. If you don’t know, Wagners are the best, and I mean the BEST, pie apples in the entire world. You can use any variety of apple for applesauce, apple crisp, apple turnovers, apple whatever, but there is just one apple for apple pie, in my opinion and Wagner is it. Back to Boyer’s: There’s cider that they make on site (unpasteurized, and incredible), cider donuts, squash, honey, jams, jellies, pumpkins, flowers, and row after row of real full sized apple trees. None of this shrub nonsense that’s popular where I live now. Apple picking in Vermont is an experience that I wholeheartedly recommend. Pack the family in the car and make a whole weekend of it. It’s worth the drive. Bonus: you don’t have to pay to get into the orchard, park, or get a bag. You pay by the pound (this year it was $0.75/lb) when you’re finished picking and that’s that.

Donuts I brought back from Vermont for the boys.  I don't mess around.
Donuts I brought back from Vermont for the boys. I don’t mess around.

As for my mom’s applesauce recipe, it turns out she quarters the apples, cooks them, then sends ‘em through a food mill. That’s it. Since I needed this applesauce as part of a recipe for apple turnovers later, I added 1/4 cup of sugar to the 12-15 apples I quartered as well as a cup and a half of apple cider (it was starting to ferment and needed to be used up), and several shakes of cinnamon. I cooked this over low heat until they were very mushy and then passed them through my food mill and left the skins on for nice pink color. That’s it, it’s so simple and so tasty.

apples after cooking
apples after cooking
process through the food mill, skins and all.
process through the food mill, skins and all.

pink apple sauce!
pink apple sauce!
Upon tasting the ¼ cup of sugar wasn’t needed, but it sure was delicious. There is nothing, and I mean nothing like fresh, hot applesauce. Tastes like home.

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